As the summer heat rolls in, it’s important to ensure that our dogs stay cool and comfortable. Dogs are susceptible to overheating, so it’s crucial to take proactive measures to keep them safe. In this blog, we’ll share six essential tips to help you keep your dog cool and beat the summer heat. From hydration strategies to emergency preparedness, we’ve got you covered!
Keep Your Dog Cool – Tip #1
Keep Your Dog Hydrated in the Summer with these Creative Solutions!
Hydration is key to your dog’s well-being during the summer. When keeping dogs cool, we need to encourage them to drink water by getting creative. That includes giving them enticing electrolyte supplements specially formulated for dogs, such as A-OK9’s Fresh-K9. Make sure your dog always has access to fresh, clean water. If your dog doesn’t drink reliably, you can add Fresh-K9 to their water. Start at a high concentration to really make the water enticing.
You can also see if your dog has a preference in terms of temperature or even how water is provided. For example, a dog that is noise sensitive may struggle to drink from a metal bowl if their tag clinks against the metal, and yet may drink without hesitation when provided with a shallow plastic dish or another, quieter alternative. Consider adding a splash of bone broth (or low-sodium broth) to the water bowl or investing in a pet water fountain to entice them to drink more, as well. This can be done simultaneously with an electrolyte drink to help keep your dog cool.
In some instances, sports dogs or high-energy pet dogs that enjoy hikes or similar excursions with their owners, will turn their nose up at water because they are in a state of high arousal or they’re intent on staying focused on the task at hand and drinking is an interruption to their fun. Dogs are not able to process the consequences that heat can have on their bodies, so it is important that you take action to keep your dog cool.
Keep Your Dog Cool – Tip #2
Keep your dog hydrated in warm weather with a “Drink” Cue:
Teaching your dog to drink on cue can be a lifesaver in hot weather. By associating a specific command or cue with drinking, you can encourage your dog to stay hydrated. Use positive reinforcement techniques and reward your dog with praise or treats when they respond to the cue.
This is really easy to teach, especially in instances where your dog is comfortable, and also reliably drinks.
In scenarios where you know your dog is going to drink, catch them when they’re just about to drink and say “Drink” or “Water” and then once they’ve finished drinking, say “Yes” and reward them. You can even make sure they know “Yes” means they’ve done something amazing by doing separate sessions where you say “Yes” and then reward them. All they need to do when you’re doing this is be attentive!
This will make them more aware and attentive to why you’re saying, “Yes” when they drink.
This is not something you teach in the moment, when you are wanting them to drink and yet they’re either 1) not thirsty or 2) too excited or nervous to drink. Observe your dog, identify when they drink and when you know it’s reliable and you have no doubt they’re about to drink, follow the steps we’ve mentioned above and your dog will be drinking on cue in no time!
When your dog is very excited or overstimulated, you may need to repeat the cue a couple of times and prompt them to drink before they take a drink. This cue can be a lifesaver for keeping your dog cool and hydrated in the warm summer months.
Keep Your Dog Cool – Tip #3
Take Frequent Breaks to Cool Your Dog Down & Stay in the Shade:
During outdoor activities, it’s crucial to take frequent breaks to cool your dog down and seek shade. Find shaded areas or set up a portable canopy or umbrella to provide relief from the sun’s rays. Let your dog rest and cool off during these breaks to prevent overheating and to keep them safe.
How do you know if your dog needs a break? Did you know that dogs perspire through their feet and while they do pant to cool themselves down their nature-made cooling system isn’t always able to keep up with the heat that we might expose them to on our adventures together.
Much like people, some dogs have more heat tolerance than others. They also won’t always choose to stop the fun in order to cool themselves down. If your dog’s tongue, during panting, is off to the side and starting to curl, it’s more than time to take that break!
Keep Your Dog Cool – Tip #4
Homemade Frozen Treats for Your Dog for Summer Enrichment, anyone?
Keep your dog cool, entertained and refreshed with frozen treats and toys. Freeze dog-friendly fruits, such as watermelon or berries, in ice cube trays or use specialized treat moulds or silicone mini ice cube trays.
Use stuffable food toys filled with a mixture of yoghurt and enticing food layers. These icy delights will provide mental stimulation and help your dog cool down. Providing your dog with enrichment in the form of a yummy frozen treat can keep their brain stimulated when going outside is not ideal!
Hide the frozen treats in your garden for short scent games with the goal being that your dog locates the frozen treasure before they melt completely!
Keep Your Dog Cool – Tip #5
What can you do if your dog is experiencing heat stroke?
Heat stroke is a serious condition that can be life-threatening for dogs. Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of heat stroke and know what steps to take in case of an emergency. We feel strongly about keeping dogs safe and taking full responsibility for their wellbeing. Dogs, when left to their own devices, don’t know when to stop, especially if they really enjoy an activity. Dogs also have limited abilities to cool themselves.
If you are concerned your dog may be suffering from heat stroke, move your dog to a cool area and focus on cooling their body as quickly as possible. Seek veterinary assistance immediately.
Signs of Heat Stroke include:
- Excessive panting
- Increased heart rate
- Signs of agitation e.g. pacing, whining
- Dark red gums
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Excessive drooling
- Elevated body temperature
- Seizures and collapse in severe cases
Being prepared with the knowledge to handle an emergency heat stroke situation with your dog is vital so you can provide your dog with the care they’ll need in an emergency. To really skill yourself up, invest in a dog first aid course like this Canine First Aid course.
Keep Your Dog Cool – Tip #6
Exercise Your Dog at Cooler Times of the Day
Plan your dog’s exercise routine during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening. Avoid exercising during peak heat hours to minimize the risk of overheating and adjust the intensity and duration of exercise based on your dog’s breed, age, and overall health. There are training and fitness games you can play indoors where it may be cooler, with consistent access to water, that will still help you meet your dog’s exercise needs, without the danger of heat stroke or other heat-related injury.
We recommend checking out:
One Easy Trick to Exercise Your Dog Indoors
And if you’re not sure what other games to play that can be played inside, this free eBook is loaded with fitness and training games that will help you to keep your dog cool (and out of the sun!) and keep them fit and strong!
Our Optimism Rocks eBook will also help skill your dog up so that any behaviour struggles are a thing of the past and it will make it easier for you to focus on safely providing your dog with fun activities while also working to keep your dog cool. It’s a win, win!
By following these six essential ‘Keeping Your Dog Cool’ tips, you can ensure that your dog stays cool, comfortable, and safe throughout the summer months. From staying hydrated and providing frozen treats to knowing how to respond in an emergency, you have the tools to beat the heat. Remember, stay informed and skill up to keep your dog safe!